Pitt News Fires Editor for Being a Member of School’s Secret Society

The Pitt News has fired assistant opinions editor Nick Stamatakis.  The cause: insurmountable conflicts of interest related to his membership in a campus secret society– and his failure to disclose it.

As I previously posted, the Druids is a nearly century old uber-secret student organization at the University of Pittsburgh whose members at times wear creepy robes and wield “a disproportionate amount of political power.”  In the midst of a spirited, comprehensive investigation into Pitt’s long-term Druid mania, Pitt News editors recently discovered Stamatakis’ ties to the society.  He had not previously revealed his Druid-ness to EIC Amy Friedenberger, a violation of the paper’s code of ethics that requires staffers “to disclose any organizations they are affiliated with.”’

In an editorial last week addressing the matter, Friedenberger confirmed Stamatakis’ past work was immediately vetted for Druid-related red flags and promised his future work would not include pieces related to any real or perceived Druid issues.  At the time, he was allowed to remain on the job.

Not anymore.

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In a letter published yesterday, Friedenberger confirmed new evidence officially pushed Stamatakis outside the lines of the paper’s ethical requirements.  Among his transgressions: a column he wrote in 2011 about a student government candidate who secretly doubled as a Druid and an email from the Druids that he forwarded a few semesters back to the paper’s top editor at the time.  In the message, the Druids said they were “seeking to build a connection with the Pitt News.”

Friedenberger: “As a result of Stamatakis’ violation of the Pitt News’ Code of Ethics, he is no longer an employee at the Pitt News. . . . Unfortunately, neither I nor past editors could have anticipated one of our own employees being a member of a secret society.  It was an unprecedented situation that involved considerable discussion and difficult decision making regarding a group we knew little about and a devoted newspaper employee.”

Stamatakis has apparently also been removed from the Druids “due to his employment at the Pitt News, which caused problems for the Druids while reporters at the paper pursued the story.”  He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about his journalism work, “I stayed very impartial.  I feel I tried to walk as ethical a line as I could.”


Pitt News Secret Society Investigation Reveals One of Its Own Editors as a Member

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